Elevation Worship released its new album LION this month, and frontman Chris Brown detailed the process of creating a record that’s outside of the normal Church music they’ve released in the past.
The worship group, which was birthed out of the worship team of the multi-campus Elevation Church based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been instrumental in making modern-day worship music what it is today. Some of its hits include “Graves Into Gardens,” “The Blessing” featuring Kari Jobe and “O Come to The Altar.”
The team’s songs are written and composed by the ministry’s pastor, Steven Furtick, and Brown, the church’s worship leader.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Brown said that he was raised in the Church, as his father is a pastor. He and Furtick have known each other since they were teenagers, playing in “little punk rock” bands together.
“It’s like a dream getting to still do that with him all these years later. I’ve been here for 15 years. I came about a year into the church being planted, and we’ve been writing songs, really since day one of myself coming on,” Brown shared.
“That vision was always in his heart for Elevation to be a worshipping church, for Elevation to have songs that we’re writing and giving language to our people for what God’s doing here through our ministry,” he said of Furtick.
LIONfeatures songs derived from a place of creative freedom, Brown said, explaining that the band felt called to write and release the album. Elevation Worship’s sound has “evolved” both “stylistically” and “musically” through the years, the singer said, calling it a "wild blessing."
After 14 albums, Brown said that it is “weighty to continue to figure out how to carry what God has given us to carry” as the band produces new music.
Furtick and Elevation Church have found themselves in the centers of controversy as the megachurch has grown in popularity. Most recently, Furtick and his wife received criticism online for praising their son’s rap project in which he rapped about sex, money and guns.
Additionally, Elevation Worship’s music has come under fire by critics who argue that Furtick’s doctrine and lyrics do not reflect orthodox Christianity.
Elevation’s website, however, contends the church holds to an orthodox view of the Bible.
Brown told CP that he deals with criticism the way his parents, who have been in ministry all his life, modeled for him.
“I had an amazing example in both my parents because my mom was behind the organ every Sunday morning. We literally lived across the street from the church, so at least five days a week, I was running the halls of our church. I just grew up in church,” he noted.
“I saw even my parents model how to carry ministry and how to be in ministry and continue to love people and continue to serve who God called them to serve at our small church in our small town,” Brown continued. “I think that has informed a lot of how I’m raising my kids, and it’s informed a lot of how I’m approaching ministry now.”
The father of two said that he does not always get things right, but his heart seeks to worship Jesus in all he does.
“I don’t presume, in the least, to always be perfect or always be even right. I could probably find things that I’ve said five years ago, 10 years ago, that I don’t even necessarily agree with the methodology of it anymore,” he said. “But that’s part of being human, that’s part of evolving. Now, if it was not rooted biblically or not rooted scripturally, that’s a different thing. But hopefully, too, there’s grace for someone who is constantly learning.”
“My approach is I am trying to be as faithful as I know how, to God and His Bride, and to the Church,” Brown added.
The singer said he stays humble and grounded by serving day-to-day at his local church despite the tour and music success.
“I know in my heart I’m still like that 17-year-old who felt called to ministry when all I knew at that time was the example my parents had set for me my whole childhood,” he commented.
“That was be faithful with what God gives you whether it’s the work He’s put in your hands to do, the gifts He’s given to you, the talents, and be faithful to His people. No one’s perfect but keep serving and trusting God knows your motives, and He’ll correct motives that are wrong.”
Elevation Worship worked onLION for 18 months. Following their albums Graves into Gardens and Old Church Basement with Maverick City, Brown said they were inspired to write differently.
“I think because of both our collaborations on those albums, creatively us getting to work with others, I think coming off of Old Church Basement and how different we dove into both the writing process but also even how to record. We wrote a lot of the songs just two weeks prior, or even the week of that recording.”
On many of their previous albums, Brown said they knew the songs “well in advance,” and they had “been singing the songs in church for most albums for months.”
“For us, that context of where we’ve been the last couple years, it opened up the landscape creatively for us on what a ‘church song’ was, what a ‘worship song’ was,” he added.
“I think for years, as we were learning to write worship songs and learning just the skill side of it, we wrote with a lot of rules. We wrote kind of inside a box. And I think the last couple of years have been us pressing the edges of the box to make it a little bigger.”
He described the new album as “quite an assortment of styles” because it’s so different from what Elevation Worship has released in the past.
The first track on the album, titled “Bye Bye Babylon,” is “not a Sunday morning song,” according to the leader. However, the lyrics had deep meaning for them.
“I think there’s still just as much resonance in that song biblically. It’s just very different musically,” Brown explained. “I just think across the album, there’s this assortment. It’s like a box of chocolates. You don’t know what’s coming next.”
Brown told CP that everything was confirmed when they chose the album name, and Furtick told the band to use a photo of a lamb as the album cover instead of a lion.
“When he conceptualized that for us, I feel like everything just made sense, and everything came into alignment because it is this album that is not very singular in its sound,” Brown concluded.